Knit against fears

A consistent theme in these postings is a lack of confidence. “Is this beyond my level?” “Can a newbie do it?” “I tried, and I failed.” “I’m afraid of socks.”

But if you’re afraid of failing, you’re afraid of growing. If you can do something easily the first time, then perhaps you didn’t really learn anything. Take a chance with your knitting – try something that looks hard to you, work on it, make mistakes, figure out where you went wrong, ask a friend.

Take risks. If you’re afraid to take risks with expensive yarn, buy some cheap stuff. Really – what do you have to lose! After all, if you spent $5 on the yarn and you make something you can’t even frog out of it, you’ve only lost $5 – but you’ve gained experience and knowledge and maybe even the confidence to try again.

I’ve felt it too – there’s a strong push in our culture for perfection. Nobody wants to feel imperfect or stupid. But the greatest rewards have come when I’ve ventured beyond what I knew I could do to trying something I wasn’t sure of. One of them was learning to knit.

Merry Christmas, and may your knitting new year be filled with challenges.


Excellent advice!

I’ve only been knitting since July, but rather than hem and haw about something looking hard, I pick up my needles and just do it! Never gonna learn unless you try, and between Amy’s videos and the how-to board, every question I have can be answered here!

:muah: I could so use this pep talk for my job. I am new to my job after 11 years at one that I knew inside and out. I am way to hard on myself to be perfect at it or as good as those who seem to be sailing past me that started the same time I did. This lack of confidence has affected my joy for knitting and even the simplest projects make me feel like a failure.
I will re-read your post Mr. Space and apply accordingly!
Thanks for the encouragement!!! :cheering:

Excellent advice! :muah:

This is totally great for me. as I just finished my first blanket I knit up for my mother in laws Christmas gift. I am wanting to try something a bit more difficult. maybe a sweater or socks. and I am a new knitter only learned in Oct. I am really excited about just trying things even if they are not for “beginners”.

Thanks for the words of fear not knitting!

You are soooooooooooooooooooo right! Except for the very basics, which my Grandmother taught me more years ago than I care to confess, that’'s what I’ve always done. And if I didn’t try new things and try to understand new methods, and make mistakes and frog and frog and frog and frog and SUCCEED I’d be so bored with knitting I’d never touch needles again! For me, it’s all about the learning and the process and the enjoyment of doing. I’d never (well, almost never) knit something that wasn’t a fun knit.

You know I often look at patterns and think “Holy Mother of toooo many instructions!” It isn’t because I don’t think that I can do it, I just don’t like carting around patterns and I dont have projects around that I can just sit and do at home on “down time” because I have so little of it. But with things like socks I hear so many people fretting about the heel flap and such and that’s my favorite part! I look at my heels with complete delight… it is the rest of the sock that makes me want to poke my eyes out with my needles…lol

But something that absolutely drives me crazy is people saying that they don’t want to use “good yarn” because they are too new and don’t think they should use it until they are “good.” Drives me absolutely to distraction. It is like the people who only use their good dishes on “special” occasions and then realize that 30 years later they have perfectly good china with no history and no stories. I understand using “cheap” yarn for practicing stitches but it is just sad to me to hear people say that they don’t think their work work is good enough to deserve “good” yarn since it isn’t perfect yet. BAH! Use what you love because you deserve it! AND USE THOSE DISHES!! Every day you wake up on the top side of the dirt is a special day!!! (yeah i just made me giggle at that :teehee:)

Brendajos, I can see what you mean, HOWEVER… :teehee:

I started knitting in mid-October. Within a month I was knitting a sweater. Although I went out and bought “nice” yarn, I didn’t buy expensive yarn, because I really thought I would end up with a very wonky sweater. I would have started out the sweater feeling under pressure to do a really good job because of the cost of the yarn - and I wouldn’t have enjoyed the process. My sweater turned out nice, it doesn’t look “cheap”, I learned a lot, I am more confident about trying new things. And when people admire it I can say “it cost me less than $30 too!” :cheering:

I’m finishing up my first pair of socks now. I have to admit that I am a bit underwhelmed about sock knitting. I really enjoyed the heel part, though. It was fun to watch it take shape and I didn’t stress about it at all.

I found a beautiful sweater pattern calling for Noro Silk Garden, and that’s going to be my big project at the beginning of the year…as soon as I buy the yarn. I have to admit that I’m a little bit stressed about this one. But I’m just going to take my time and if I realize that I’m too much of a beginner for it I’ll put it away for a little awhile and continue later. It’s nice to have an ambitious project to work towards.

Man, waking up under the dirt would be about the worst day ever. :teehee:

Thanks for that! I try to live everything by that philosophy. I’ve never liked to limit myself by the “novice”, “beginner” etc stuff. Not just knitting, but everything. If I see something I wanna make, I make it! :slight_smile:

Man, waking up under the dirt would be about the worst day ever. :teehee:[/quote]

I know huh? This is what I am trying to say! :teehee:

You know, I don’t think it’s necessary to keep pushing the envelope just to acquire more skills. I’m quite content simply making stuff I like, and I really don’t see anything wrong with that. If it happens to involve new techniques, great – I’m the sort of person who will try to find every possible way to approach something and test every one of them out to see what works best for a particular project – I live for that sort of thing. But I don’t feel compelled to make a fair isle sweater just because I haven’t done fair isle yet. Though I can appreciate others’ efforts, that’s just not my style, and I have no desire to learn a certain technique just to be able to tick it off a list. Knitting is a hobby for me, not something to be conquered.

Personally, I’m continually impressed by the complexity of the projects displayed by KH’ers, and by their confidence to try new things. I really see that as a stronger “theme” here than fear of failure.

Hmm… it’s funny how we view the vibe of this board differently, isn’t it, Bill? The more I think about it, the more I can’t help wondering whether the disparity in our perceptions might stem, in part, from gender differences in communication styles. I don’t mean to get all Deborah Tannen on you (and I can’t say that I necessarily subscribe to her theories), but I suspect that a good part of the self-deprecating sentiment you’re describing reflects modesty more than insecurity. Still, if someone needs some reassurance, I wouldn’t dissuade them from sharing their feelings and getting support here, because this is the best place to do it. I think KH provides an exceptionally empowering environment for knitters of all levels.

Well, I totally agree with you all. I knit a lot with acrylic, not because it’s cheap, but because I’m allergic to animal fibers and acrylic is much warmer than cotton. But if I find a yarn I like and it’s expensive, I’ll buy it. (like my orange sweater) I knit everything I want to knit and I don’t think of myself in experience-level. If I like it, I’ll knit it. I like challenges, but if I love a simple stockinette sweater, I’ll knit that sweater. I think everybody can knit everything they want. If I can do it, why can’t anybody else. Just start, frog if you have to (everybody has to frog once in a while)

That is a great philosophy to live by. Not everyone is so . . . positive, though. I’ll admit to being one who doesn’t like doing things I’m not good at. Yep, that’s me all over. :doh: Trying something several times and failing at it over and over again makes me feel stupid, and that’s not a good feeling. Some people don’t take it so personally, just look at it as part of the learning experience, while others look at it as flaws within themselves. And so for lots of things, I don’t know, maybe I would have succeeded if I had tried a few times more, but I’ve never been sure if the joy of success was worth the pain of repeated failure. I’m sure for many it is, but that’s a very personal feeling.

Fortunately, I find myself pretty good at knitting. :eyebrow:

I do encourage people to try things at knitting and to keep trying, but looking back on myself I’m not sure it’s fair of me to do so given how many things I’ve given up on. I guess I can understand the insecurity, even if it doesn’t apply to knitting for me.

I’m not always a go-get-'em or throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of person, but with knitting, I most definitely am. It’s just sticks and yarn in the end–so what if the work looks horrid? That’s what frogging is for! I’ll try to knit anything–forget that ‘skill level’ business–heck my third-ever project was socks. They look awful, but I learned a LOT knitting them and consider them my most important knitting milestone–far more than my first sweater. I’ve kept them, too–no frogging those! My fourth project was a fair isle hat–I’d never done fair isle or knit a hat. The hat looks odd, but it fits, is warm, and I love it.

Now if I could extend that fearlessness into other aspects of my life, I’d be quite the happy woman :wink:

Yes let me be clear that i wasn’t equating price with nice when it comes to yarn. there is a LOT of yarn that carries a hefty price that i don’t like or think is nice and i would never spend the money on it. and vice versa for yarns that are considered “cheap.” I just hate seeing people looking at what they consider to be nice yarn and not using it because they don’t think their work is worthy yet!

You are right in that. I think everyone is worth the yarn they like most. Even a first time knitter. I experienced that yarn can do so much to make a sweater for example more beautiful. My last sweater was with expensive yarn, but the yarn was knitted into a really soft and smooth fabric and it feels like a second skin. When something is so comfortable to wear, you certainly have more joy in wearing it.

Glad I set off a discussion. A couple of further thoughts:

I don’t think you have to progress to be happy. If you’re happy knitting whatever you’re knitting, then you’re happy, and we’re all happy for you. I meant my words for those who expressed fear of trying something new. Fear is not a happy spot.

And I also understand that fear. As one who never really played any sports when I was a kid because my Dad expected me to be as good as he was, I know about not leaving yourself a learning curve. And I regret it – I think of all the fun I could have had if I’d learned to let myself get better gradually instead of wanting instant perfection – and then giving up when I didn’t get it! Not everyone can be a great athlete, but everyone can have fun playing games and moving his body in the world.

And I totally agree that good yarn is worth it, even for beginners – maybe especially for beginners. Knitting with bad yarn is a real pain, and might slow down your enjoyment.

As for gender differences: I do think there is a difference. I think women are more conditioned than men to see modesty as a virtue. And modesty is a very important and very lovable trait. And of course I know that the tone of the forum is somewhat skewed by people who are asking for advice when they are stymied and frustrated – that might color their observations, and the way they express themselves. And I also know that there are a lot of confident, happy, and (probably) gorgeous knitters out there. It goes without saying! I meant encouragement to those who felt the fear I am talking about (and which I have felt), and not to disparage them, and not to assume they’re in the majority.